Puckett's corn cakes complete this meat and three plate.
Thanksgiving menus vary greatly across the country, but dressing (or stuffing) seems to be one of the most universal components. According to reliable sources, my mother makes excellent cornbread dressing, but you won’t hear that from me because I can’t eat the stuff. I just don’t like it. Or stuffing. And it's odd, because I like just about every kind of corny, bready carb.
In fact, I love cornbread in just about every other form I can think of. I like sweet yellow, unsweet white, and corn muffins. I love tamales, polenta cakes and arepas, too; my cornbread love knows no cultural bounds.
I’ve recently been on a corn cake kick. Inspired by a trip to the original Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant in Leiper’s Fork this past summer, my traditional meals are now served with these yellow disks of goodness. What’s great is that I can make a huge batch and refrigerate or freeze what I don’t need and then re-heat in the oven and they’re as good as fresh-made.
I asked if Puckett’s would mind sharing the recipe and they happily obliged, though they generally make a huge batch, so the measurements are a bit unconventional. Regardless, you can make this batter very easily at home, particularly if you know the consistency you’re looking for, which should be thick enough to spread just slightly after pouring to retain a height of about a quarter-inch. The corn cake is ready to flip when (like with regular pancakes), you can see bubbles on top and that it’s already nearly done. I cook mine on a lightly-oiled electric griddle, but any flat pan will do. Recipe after the jump.
If the prospect of coming up with an interesting holiday menu terrifies you, or if you just can't bear to cook another typical turkey/ham protein platter, perhaps Chef Maneet Chauhan of Chauhan Ale and Masala House could be coming to your rescue. She'll be teaching two sessions of what should prove to be a really entertaining holiday cooking class that includes an exotic five-course menu that you get to sit down and enjoy after class is over.
Chef Chauhan will also be integrating a mixology component and teaching that portion of the class herself. For this reason, the class is a 21+ affair, but each student will take home the recipes and a special gift from the restaurant. Making a new meal from just a recipe is a daunting task, so why not take a trial run so you'll be ready for the big day? (Plus you get to eat the food twice!)
Students will be broken into small groups to prepare the meal with assistance from the kitchen staff, and Chef Chauhan will join for the meal at the end. No pressure.
Classes will be held at Chauhan Ale and Masala House from 11:00 am-2:00 pm on Saturday, Dec. 12 and 19. Tickets are $137.09 apiece and include tax and gratuity, and they're limited for both sessions, so pick your date and buy your spot at the table at the event website today.
Each year, it gets a little more difficult to come up with the year's gift guide. Not because there aren't a lot of great ways to send a tasty bite of Nashville to your friends and family, but because I pretty much have the same recommendations every year. They're solid. But I do have a few new items for the list this year, some of which aren't necessarily edible.
If you prefer your gift-giving to have a charitable component, I love these tea towels from The Nashville Food Project. They also sell aprons and coffee. The folks at Y'allsome have a number of clever designs, but I particularly like the Tennessee flag "banjo" with the bottle. A portion of Y'allsome sales go to programs for foster children. Speaking of children, proceeds from Christie Cookie tins specially-designed by patients benefit the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. And for those of us in town, it doesn't get more local than the honey at Glen Leven Farm. This honey is delicious and supports the honeybee sanctuary at the farm.
For those with a sweet tooth, there is no shortage of options. You're certain to find something (or several somethings) among the variety of flavors from Willa's Shortbread. Macarons are also a great little gift (particularly for a hostess gift) and there are several great macaron makers around town, including Le Macaron and Utterly Nashville. Another great hostess gift is the new Goo Buttons from Goo Goo Clusters and any of the candies from Seersucker (those cherry bombs are, well, you know). Though perishable, the mini cheesecakes from Tennessee Cheesecake (which come frozen) are also excellent gifts.
You know you'll be looking for something to do on the day before Thanksgiving, so why not take a distillery tour? The first 25 visitors to Green Brier that day beginning at 11 a.m. will get a free tour, and everyone else will pay just $5 for the rest of the day. The tour includes plenty of behind-the-scenes stories of the history of the operation as well as tastings of some of their product. Additionally, everything in the gift shop will be discounted by 10 percent, so it might be a good time to get a head start on some holiday shopping!
A release today proclaims that Mayor Megan Barry will cut the ribbon before the doors open, and she will be the store's "ceremonial first customer." (What will she buy, we wonder?)
As Bites reported back in December, The new Turnip Truck includes a juice bar, food bars both hot and cold, a bakery with gluten-free goods and a meat department. With 13,000 square feet of retail space, the new store is four times the size of its predecessor.
The new store is at 701 Woodland St. near East Park. That's about two blocks from the old store, which is at 927 Woodland, near Five Points.
The Green Hills restaurant shuffle continues, as Carrabba's Italian Grill is preparing to move to a different spot in the Mall at Green Hills complex: the former Ruby Tuesday's site, currently being rebuilt.
Bites' Nashville Post colleague William Williams reports the news today, citing a Metro Codes Department permit. Venture Construction Co. is handling the work on the former Ruby Tuesday’s space, a job valued at $980,000.
The Green Hills Ruby Tuesday's, which was a happening place in the back in the chain's heyday, closed in February. The location is in the Shops at Green Hills strip, located at 2110 Green Hills Village Drive across the parking lot from the mall. Carrabba's is vacating a space that is adjacent to the mall, but with a separate entrance.
Recently, I had some friends over for a bit of wine and cheese, featuring the lemon and fig fresca from Dayspring Dairy I purchased at the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival and some other favorites I had on hand. There was fig jam, cherry jam, Glen Leven honey, homemade arugula pesto, olives, marcona almonds dusted with lavender sugar and lime zest, and breads including the fig and olive crackers from Trader Joe’s (highly recommended). I chose three bottles of red wine to go with the feast:
Anaba Turbine Red (2013). This Sonoma Valley red gets its grapes from two different vineyards and is a blend of grenache, mourvedre and syrah. This wine paired perfectly with the harder cheeses thanks to its dark fruitiness, which was more apparent after it had been left to breathe for about an hour. It was bold, but light in tannins and easy to drink.
Perticaia Montefalco Rosso (2012). This Italian wine is primarily sangiovese, which is my favorite red. The other 30 percent is Sangrantino and Colorino. This wine was amazingly light, with a finish that disappeared quickly. But on the palate, lots of cherry. It paired well with the lighter food selections, but would also be great on its own. Not surprisingly, this was my favorite of the three.
(Disclaimer: We didn't have nearly enough room to include everybody in town offering delicious holiday meals!)
Anyway, it all raises the question of the week: What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Are you launching a massive culinary operation? (I remember last year's lively discussion of spatchcocking the holiday bird.) Are you picking up goodies to bring home? Are you dining out, perhaps enjoying Chinese or Indian food in the tradition of many Nashvillians?
Just like your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore, your Amex platinum won't get you in the Admiral's Club anymore, so thirsty travelers through the Nashville airport need to seek out new options to pre-flight with a little liquid courage. The Yazoo beer bar has been a welcome addition, allowing you to carry a cup of your favorite brew to the gate, albeit not on the plane. Now there's a new opportunity for wine lovers as well.
Vino Volo is a chain of wine bars and cafes with more than 25 locations across the U.S. and Canada, and now they have landed in Concourse C at BNA near Gate 15. Open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day except Saturday, when they close a little early at 7:30 p.m., Vino Volo offers a cozy spot to enjoy wine by the glass or as part of a flight. Small plates such as salmon rolls and sandwiches are also available to offer a little sustenance to go along with the vino.
A loyalty program rewards frequent purchasers with free amuse bouches and discounts on bottle purchases as well as special shipping deals when purchasing from Vino Volo's wine club. Whether you become a frequent wino, Vino Volo is a welcome addition to the food and drink options at the airport. Go ahead and take that offer for a free Southwest voucher for a later flight.
After a pretty much unblemished record of operating successful concepts around Nashville, Max and Ben Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality have opened their first real, from-scratch fine-dining restaurant with Le Sel in the ground floor of the Adelicia condo tower in Midtown. By saying that, I don't mean to belittle their earlier ventures or successes one bit. But spots like The Patterson House, Pinewood Social, Band Box, The Catbird Seat and Paradise Park Trailer Resort probably wouldn't be considered traditional fine-dining restaurants and are instead fairly unique concepts that are more (or intentionally less) than your regular sit-down dining spot. Merchants is probably the closest the Goldbergs have come to a typical fine-dining eatery, but it had already been open for many years when they took it over, resurrected it and restored it to its former glory.
So with Le Sel, the Brothers G have put their reputation as James Beard award-nominated restaurateurs on the line as they attempt to reinvent the modern French bistro. My first visit would seem to indicate that thanks to the precision and creativity of chef Rene De Leon, they are well on their way to that goal.
First of all, there's what the team has done to the cavernous interior of the restaurant space. As previous tenants Miro District, Fish and Co. and The Tippler discovered, the divided three-level space has been very problematic when it comes to creating a cohesive and inviting atmosphere. With a basement kitchen, past iterations of the space have had difficulty getting food to the table in a timely fashion, and even with talented chefs working the line, diners never really felt like they were part of the cooking experience. In today's discerning dining world, patrons want to know more about what's happening behind the curtain.
The Goldbergs have converted the isolated upper-level dining space into a sexy private room with three tables capable of hosting eight diners apiece in a room that is painted bordello-red with a striking graffiti pattern applied to the walls. There's even a private entrance from the parking garage in case VIPs don't want to be seen entering the building by us proles in the main dining room. (Although it should be noted that two A-list country stars were dining at the table next to mine on my visit and they seemed to be having a fine time.)